As with other cities around the world, Vancouver faces challenges that call for decisive action and innovation, and every resident and business will play a crucial role in helping us, as a community, to reach our goals. A growing population, climate uncertainty, rising fossil fuel prices, and shifting economic opportunities are just some of the challenges that now call on us to work hard to remain one of the best places in the world in which to live.
In the 1960s, Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood residents stopped the construction of a massive freeway into downtown that would have levelled their community and altered the shape of the city forever. Today, Vancouver is one of a very few cities in North America that does not have a major highway cutting through its core. And our city was one of the first in the world to recognize the importance and gravity of climate change. In 1990, the groundbreaking Clouds of Change Task Force recommended the city begin reducing its carbon dioxide emissions.
Today, Vancouver has the smallest per capita carbon footprint of any city in North America. We have been able to achieve this in collaboration with our energy utility providers, senior levels of government, and innovators in the business and non-profit sectors who see new opportunity in responding to this challenge. Because of these achievements, Vancouver is quickly becoming a new green economy hub.
Vancouverites have consistently made choices that have turned our home into one of the world’s most livable cities. There’s much to love about Vancouver, from magnificent natural surroundings to strong environmental values, from a diverse cultural mix and innovative economy to our vibrant neighbourhoods. It’s now up to all of us to help make Greenest City 2020 a reality. Vancouver is well positioned to achieve this plan’s 10 greenest city goals in the coming decade. Indeed, as you’ll see, we’re already well on our way.
How Does Vancouver Compare?
There is some debate about the usefulness of ranking cities, and about the methods used to determine the sustainability or livability of a specific place. However, it’s important to know how Vancouver stacks up against other municipalities around the world as we learn to build more prosperous, healthy, and green cities.
Vancouver does well on national and international rankings that relate to the Greenest City goals. Organizations such as Corporate Knights and the Economist Intelligence Unit are increasingly recognizing Vancouver’s efforts to be greener, more livable, more sustainable, and more resilient.
There’s no time Like the Present
Why are we working towards becoming the Greenest City and why now?
Vancouver residents have an ecological footprint three times larger than the Earth can sustain. The decisions we make every day about how we move around the city, what we buy or eat, and how we deal with our waste means that we currently use far more than our fair share of the Earth’s resources.
Fortunately, there are many solutions that address climate change and other environmental challenges while creating green jobs, strengthening our community, increasing the livability of our city and improving the well-being of our citizens.
In particular, the green economy is rapidly expanding and Vancouver is ready to take advantage of this opportunity. The former Chief Economist for the World Bank, Sir Nicholas Stern, has estimated that failure to tackle the climate crisis could cost the global economy $6.6 trillion a year. This is an important lesson. Although there are investments required to become the Greenest City, there are also real risks associated with ignoring the issue.
This action plan sets out a clear vision, with concrete targets and the steps required to achieve each one of them. Between now and 2020, there will be a lot to learn and do to achieve the Greenest City goals. But there is little doubt that the results will improve our quality of life and make us even more globally competitive, while helping us live in better balance with the Earth’s natural systems.
Ambitious, necessary, and possible—this is the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan (GCAP) for Vancouver. it is our road map to becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.
This plan sets the course toward realizing a healthy, prosperous, and resilient future for our city. It calls on us all to rise to the challenge of transforming our community to create a better life for future generations.